Mar 15, 2024

Miks Master C Makes Easy Work of Show Jumping at SRF Carolina International

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Liz Halliday and Miks Master C are leading the CCI4*-S at SRF Carolina International. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Raeford, N.C.—March 15—The standings after today’s CCI4*-S show jumping at the Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International shuffled with 14 double-clear rounds out of 35 to start, but Liz Halliday stayed right where she was at the top of the leaderboard aboard Miks Master C.

She also remained in second with Cooley Moonshine, and has two other horses in the top-10 with Cooley Nutcracker jumping clear to move into fourth, and Cooley Quicksilver adding one rail to his score to land in sixth.

“Mikki,” a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood (Might Magic x Qui Luma CBF) owned by Ocala Horse Properties and Deborah Palmer, will be aiming for the CCI4*-S at Defender Kentucky in April as Halliday has her eyes on the Paris Olympic team selection.

A change of bit since the $100,000 Conceal Grand-Prix Eventing Showcase (Aiken, South Carolina) two weeks ago helped the pair deliver a clear round today over Marc Donovan’s track. “He was gorgeous today,” she said. “I was just totally thrilled with him. He was polite and careful and really rideable. I think we're heading the right way with him, and he's much happier. Now he’s starting to really use his body, which is super. He was a really good boy.”

Liz Halliday and Cooley Moonshine are in second place.

Halliday’s been enjoying working with show jumper Peter Wylde this winter and trying to be a bit faster.

“My goal is to be a little bit a little bit faster and just get comfortable turning up to the jumps, which I think I did well today,” she said. “I felt like for the most part I was back in my groove again. I’ve jumped a few bigger classes this year. I've just been doing 1.35s and stuff, which has been great for me. Peter’s helped push me to do that. It's been nice having him at the shows because he's just such a great coach. And so is Eric [Duvander,] and I've had the two of them sometimes; they just put me in my zen.”

Halliday’s had a look at Ian Stark’s cross-country course for tomorrow, and says while it’s similar to 2023, she’s happy to have a run around to prepare for Kentucky. She’ll withdraw Cooley Moonshine before cross-country as she never planned to run him. Halliday and Mikki will have 5.4 penalties in hand over Caroline Pamukcu, who moved into third with HSH Blake.

“A couple of things are tweaked. I think the out on the coffin [fence 11abc] is stronger than last year, which would be a good test for them. It’s a good question before Kentucky,” she said. “The last water [fence 19ab] is a fair bit different. The first water [fence 14abc] I think is nicer than it was last year.”

Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Blake moved into third place.

Pamukcu had a clear round on her own, Deniz Pamukcu, Mollie Hoff, and Sherrie Martin’s HSH Blake, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tolan R x Doughiska Lass).

She spent some time at the World Equestrian Center – Ocala in Florida recently jumping 1.30-meter courses with help from Olympian Anne Kursinski. “The biggest thing is making sure I don’t rush the rhythm in the ring. He’s such a good jumper, and he’s a phenomenal athlete, so just going in and having a steady round and not being so worried about making the time. We’ve fine-tuned our warm-up. We jump about six jumps before we go in. He felt good. I’m very pleased.”

Caroline’s hoping to use this event as a prep for the CCI4*-S at Kentucky and then the Tryon International CCI4*-L (Mill Spring, North Carolina) in May.

“I’m going to give him a good run here,” she said. “I love Ian’s courses. There’s no reason not to go and have a good crack out there. I want to have a good canter and a good fitness run. He promotes positive riding, but his courses don’t promote short cuts, so to be efficient and positive and not get clever. I’ll ride to plan, and if I have to adapt, I’ll adapt. I want to have a smooth round."

Stark’s laid out a course of 23 numbered obstacles and 35 efforts over an optimum time of 6 minutes 28 seconds. It’s the same flow as last year, but he’s softened the first water (14abc the Lighthouse) and moved a few portables around.

Stark will be retiring from course designing at the end of the year, so this weekend will be an emotional one for him. He’s been designing the Carolina International courses since 2016.

He’s appreciated the Carolina International’s organizing committee, who’ve allowed him to make changes to the courses at the Carolina Horse Park over the years, including widening the tracks through the trees to allow more sunlight and grow better grass.

“I didn’t want to do big changes this year. I’m trying to get through this as smoothly as possible,” he said with a laugh. “There’s plenty for them to jump out there so it won’t be a walk in the park, that’s for sure.

“I’ve never been shy at asking the questions,” he added. “I’m always nervous on cross-country day. For the horses and riders, I think it’s important for me it’s important that they get the chance to jump a decent shorter track before they go to the big competitions.”

The beginning of the course follows the race track and is open and gallopy to get horses and riders moving forward. After fence 9, a table, they head into the woods for the remainder of the course.

“The galloping stuff is at the beginning, so if they go too fast, is the horse going to be tired at the end? But it’s not too much terrain, so the horses should finish it quite easily,” said Stark. “If they start off too quietly, they’re never going to make it up early on. They’ve got to be up to the minute markers, if not a little bit ahead before they start going through the trees. Galloping through trees you always think you’re going fast, but they can make you slow down.”

Cross-country for the CCI4*-S begins at 11:46 a.m. on Saturday.

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